Olympia's Look

Edouard Manet. Olympia. 1863. 1.3x1.9 meters. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Unabashedly naked she was, her taut little body startling and beautiful, dressed only in a thin black velvet ribbon around her neck and dainty satin slippers. Olympia, a courtesan lounging on a divan and receiving a bouquet of flowers while coolly assessing her gentleman client.

"She's too imperious to countenance any other name. Besides, I like what Edouard named her. It's similar to Olympe, an alias used by some courtesans in the city. It's Victorine Meurent, you know."

The directness of her look, straight out of the canvas, ostensibly at her male client, was silently confrontational. The French had a way about them, an assurance she envied. Her deferential Dutchness kept the peace, but that was all, while Olympia had mocked her with that barefaced impudence every day of her married life.